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November 20, 2013

What to Blog About When You Have Nothing to Blog About

Writing, Blogging
Photo Credit: Michael Heilemann via flickr

In my travels around New Zealand holding Internet marketing workshops, the subject of blogging invariably pops up. Usually, it is prompted by a fierce discussion about business websites and the hairy dilemma of fresh content or lack thereof.

The Company Blog Dilemma

The discussion goes something like this:

Business Representative: “You say that we need to consistently add new content to our websites in order to rank better in Google. But what sort of content can we add? We’ve already got pages for each of our products.” 

Me: “You can add all sorts of content. Newsletters, customer testimonials, white-papers, articles. Do you have a company blog?”

Business Representative: “Not any more. We used to have one because our competitor started one. But we didn’t have anything to blog about so we deleted it.”

Me: “What do you mean you didn’t have anything to blog about?”

Business Representative: “We’re an insurance company. We don’t really have a lot to say. Blogs might work for personal websites, but not for a company. We really didn’t know what to blog about.”

Blogging Myth Busted

I’m always amused when I hear this argument. I tend to respond with a raised eyebrow and a knowing smirk. Rather than continue to argue, I simply load this page on to the big screen: http://www.wikihow.com/Find-a-Lost-Television-Remote.

This ‘article’ — and I use the term loosely — consists of nothing more than a handful of photos and less than 200 words of text. The subject matter is ridiculous. Why would anyone feel the need to write about a lost TV remote?

Well apparently, it’s a direct response to frustrated searchers who type in things like “Where is the *&%$&^ TV remote?” or “Where did I leave my keys?” into Google in desperation. As remote as it seems, (pun sadly intended), there is actually a market for this type of thing and those clever WikiHow authors have capitalized on it.

Let’s face it — if you can blog about how to find a lost TV remote, you can blog about ANYTHING. Look how many shares that article has had. I’m sharing it with you now and I’ve seen it shared on Facebook a dozen times, possibly in a “what the…?” way, but still.

It might be an extreme example, but it underscores the point that the “I have nothing to blog about” excuse doesn’t cut it any more. You truly CAN blog about anything. Q&A-based or How To style blog posts are the most popular with searchers, because people are constantly looking for answers and solutions to their problems. If you can meet that need, you are halfway to doubling your traffic.

Sources of Blogging Inspiration

Still unsure what to blog about? Let me give you some potential examples:

Blog Topic Ideas for the Banking / Finance Industry: 

  • How to Choose a Suitable Retirement Fund
  • Q & A: Which Bank Fees are Tax Deductable?
  • 10 Tricks to Get Your Kids to Save Their Pocket Money
  • Five Financial Calculators You Can’t Do Without

Blog Topic Ideas for the Travel / Hospitality Industry:

  • Top 10 Items to Include on Your Packing List
  • Q & A: Is a Credit Card or Debit Card Better to Take on Vacation?
  • Best Value Vacations for Large Families
  • How to Always Book the Best Seats on a Plane

Blog Topic Ideas for the Retail Sector:

  • 10 Tips for Successful Online Clothes Shopping
  • How to Win Online Auctions Without Using Auto Bidding Tools
  • Online Shopping: How to Protect Your Privacy
  • How to Find Retail Coupons Online

Blog Topic Ideas for the Education Sector:

  • How to Manage Restrictions on Your Child’s Mobile Device
  • Q & A: Are Online Courses Recognized by Employers?
  • Top 10 Mobile Devices for Senior School Students
  • Five Mobile Apps That Will Encourage Your Kids to Do Homework

Getting the drift? I made these up in about 10 minutes, but I’m sure you can come up with plenty of more appropriate ideas that make sense for your own particular industry and target audience.

Metrics Gold:

A fantastic and often overlooked source of potential website or blog content can be found in your site analytics. If you use internal site search, make sure you check the search trends on a regular basis.

If you’re using Google Analytics, you can find these under Behavior -> Site Search. Here you can find not only the search terms that people entered into your internal site search box, but the pages that they visited as a result of their search. This is metrics GOLD.

You will often see keywords and topics here that your visitors are looking for on your site but aren’t finding. Again, it comes back to the concept of providing answers to regular questions. For example, if you are an online retailer who sells baby capsules (carseat) and you’re noticing a lot of visitors searching for “baby capsule for car,” that might prompt you to write an article or blog post along the lines of “How to Secure Your Baby Capsule in the Car.”

Customer Driven Content:

Your Customer Support or Help Desk team can also be an ideal source of fresh site content. These are the people closest to your customers and they have a good idea of what problems or questions customers have about your products and services.

By gauging the topics your customers are most interested in, you can plan new content knowing that you have an audience already keen for it. It’s a similar story with social media. The conversations you have with your customers via social channels can be a source of inspiration for new blog posts. Even a basic exchange on Twitter, for example, can be easily turned into a Q&A article.

So next time you think But I have nothing to blog about,” refer back to this article and think again.

Now… where did I put that jolly TV remote?


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Article by Kalena Jordan, one of the first search engine optimization experts in Australia, who is well known and respected in the industry, particularly in the U.S. As well as running a daily Search Engine Advice Column, Kalena manages Search Engine College — an online training institution offering instructor-led short courses and downloadable self-study courses in search engine optimization and other search engine marketing subjects.

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